Cardamine californica

It was so nice to see the first milkmaids this morning!

Milkmaids (Cardamine californica) are some of the first wildflowers to appear in the Santa Monica Mountains each year, showing up in winter and early spring. This member of the Brassicaceae (Mustard) family likes shady, moist hillsides or stream banks in riparian areas. Each flower is about 12mm in diameter with four white to pink petals. The flower closes its petals in late afternoon as the sun goes down and nods its pedicel before a rain, protecting the pollen. It is perennial—after flowering and setting seed, it dies back to its roots where it goes dormant until next year’s rains awaken it.

I hiked this trail once before, in summer 2016, and had a bit of a heat exhaustion incident. I was alone at the time. I remember feeling very dizzy and nauseated, and crawling into the scant shade of a tree to rest and cool down. Luckily today was perfect hiking weather. No hyperthermia involved.

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